Monday, July 6, 2015

Notes on Troglodytes

I had always found the position of the right arm in the first of David Sutherland’s two troglodyte illustrations from the Monster Manual a little funny. So when I finally got to take a gander at the original Lost Caverns of Tsjoconth it was cool to see what appears to be a clear correspondence for that arm position in the first “troglodite” art.

The original troglodite illustration:

And the first of the two troglodyte illustrations from the first Monster Manual:

In researching the concept of a reptilian troglodyte, which from what I can tell is entirely of Gygax’s devising with no source in the etymology or early fantasy literature (of course it’s very possible I’m missing something there), these early D&D trogs also bear some resemblance (sans wings) to some of the depictions of the Sumerian sky gods. Here’s a picture from a Sumerian carving:

I had liked the idea of bringing the troglodytes in my campaign world closer to the dictionary definition, but without just making them vicious smelly cavemen. Another ancient carving I found online presented a really good lead for this line of thought, though I decided against following it. Here is a human body, possibly with clawed feet, but the head is this oversized reptilian, even dinosaur-like, monstrosity. Pretty cool:

I’ll post my take on the troglodite later in the week. I’m going back to the original D&D spelling even if, as it seems likely, it was just a misspelling. The image that finally nailed it for me in terms of sticking to the concept laid out in Lost Caverns and the Monster Manual can be found in various odd places on the Web, such as this blog post from last year about reptilian humanoids spotted by bikers in Arizona!

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